Freudenthal Home Health Blog

Freudenthal Home Health salutes family caregivers in the St. Joseph, MO area who are giving wonderful care and help to their senior loved ones each and every day. Our goal with this blog is to give information and resources to help and support St. Joseph, MO area family caregivers.

8 Reasons to Update Your Will

If you haven't looked over your will in a while, it's probably time to do so.

Lives change. Our finances change. Loved ones leave us and new family members join us. We relocate. And on and on. These types of occurrences — and a few others — often demand updating a will.

Here are eight life changes that should prompt people in their 50s and 60s to review their wills to ensure they’re still consistent with their current life situations and wishes:

1. You’ve moved. If you’ve moved to a different state since your will was written, it’s probably time to update the document. Your will is administered in your state of residence when you die and that state’s laws apply — not the laws of the state where the will was written.

Your will is administered in your state of residence when you die and that state’s laws apply — not the laws of the state where the will was written.

It’s quite possible that some rules in your new state are different from your old one. For instance, states have varying laws regarding the number of witness signatures needed on a will to be able to transfer property upon your death. If you move from a state that only requires one witness to a state that requires two and haven’t updated your will, this will likely be problematic for your executor — the person you appoint to handle your estate.

States also differ regarding which types of wills are valid. Some allow self-written wills but have rules about how they must be written. In one state, a will you write yourself may have to be entirely in your own handwriting; in another, you could be able to type it and just sign at the bottom.

2. You’ve sold your home and bought another. If you own a different home than the one when you wrote your will, your will needs updating to reflect your proper address. Most wills don’t simply state that you give your home to your children. They say you give your home, located at such and such address, to your children.

3. You purged your possessions. Have you downsized since your will was written? If your will lists items you no longer own, those possessions will simply be skipped over. But listed recipients for them won’t get anything in their place. So, you may want to review your will to reconfigure how your current personal property will be distributed.

4. You made a gift to a child. If you downsized after writing your will and gave, say, your antique dining room table to one child, but the will says it will go to another child, things could become awkward between your kids when your will is administered. Similarly, things can be problematic if you made a gift to one child, but the amount isn’t balanced with what you’ll leave to another child in the will. Any gifts that could affect items or amounts listed in your will necessitate an update to your will.

5. Your charity relationships have changed. It could be that since writing your will, you’ve become a board member for a charity or now volunteer at a nonprofit that means a lot to you. You may want to leave money for them in your will, requiring an update for the document. Conversely, you may have had a strong affinity to a charity listed in your will but no longer feel that way. That means it’s time to fix the will, too.

6. Your financial situation or the value of your assets have changed. Maybe your will spells out exactly how much money you will give to each of your three children. But the size of your estate isn’t what it was when you wrote the will — it might have grown or shrunk. The dollar amounts noted could create challenges for your executor. If so, amend the will to reflect your current net worth.

Similarly, maybe you wrote the will designating a gift of stock to a certain person or organization upon your death. At the time, the stock wasn’t worth much. But now it is. This, too, might mean you’ll want to update your will to ensure your gift will be what you had in mind.

7. One child has become your primary caregiver. If a son or daughter has devoted a great deal of time (and maybe money) to taking care of you since you wrote the will, you may want to update your document to reflect your gratitude to your family caregiver. If you do, be sure to explain this to your children or leave details about your intentions in the will.

8. A beneficiary listed in your will has died. You won’t need to update your will just because your spouse died since you wrote it and your spouse was named as the recipient of your estate. Typically, wills also list alternate recipients in case spouses die first. Then, the alternate recipients inherit the estates. However, if your will listed leaving items to a child who has since died, you’ll need to provide instructions on how to distribute them.

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What Seniors Need to Know About Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we think it’s important for senior women to know exactly what that means for them. Breast cancer is a disease for which risk increases with age. The numbers are quite startling: 82.2 new cases (per 100,000 women) are diagnosed in women younger than 65 years compared with 403.8 for those aged 65 and older.

Breast Cancer Awareness among Older Women

Let’s first break down what we know about breast cancer and older women a little further:

  • Age Increases Risk: According to Harvard-affiliated researchers, half of all newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer are in women over the age of 60. Nearly 20% of them are women aged 70 and older.

  • By the Numbers: One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. But it’s not just women who develop breast cancer. While the odds are significantly lower, one in 1,000 men will develop it too.

  • Family Ties: If a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) has a history of breast cancer, your risk for developing it nearly doubles. But don’t let a lack of breast cancer in your family lull you into delaying preventative screenings. While family history plays a role, less than 15% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family member who has or has had the disease.

Breast Cancer Prevention

What actions can women take to help prevent breast cancer?

  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: We hear this one often when it comes to cancer prevention, and breast cancer is no different. Harvard researchers found that women who ate foods with high carotenoid levels had a 19% lower risk of breast cancer than those who didn’t. Carotenoids are found in fruits and vegetables.

  • Keep Moving: As you grow older and your metabolism slows, it’s easy for the number on the scale to creep up. A study by the American Cancer Society found that women who gained 21 to 30 pounds after age 18 were 40% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than women who maintained their weight.

  • Be Aware of the Risks with Hormone Therapy (HT): Hormone therapy used to be a widely prescribed method of treating hot flashes in women. Research has uncovered risk factors associated with HT ranging from heart disease to breast cancer. The Women’s Health Initiative found that long-term use of combined estrogen plus progestin therapy increased the chances of developing breast cancer by 24%.

  • Smoking: Smoking causes a number of diseases and is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women. Research also has shown that there may be a link between very heavy second-hand smoke exposure and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. Quitting a habit like smoking is never easy. offers a discussion board that has a thread titled Stop Smoking Support Thread, where you can meet others to give and receive support in your battle to quit smoking.

Preventative Screenings for Breast Cancer

While the statistics on breast cancer are fairly solid, the recommendations on preventative screenings aren’t. You may have heard conflicting reports on the news yourself. It can be a little unsettling for women of all ages. The American Cancer Society recommends yearly screening mammograms starting at age 45 and continuing for as long as you are in good health. These are guidelines many physicians in the U.S. adhere to. Obviously this is a conversation every woman will need to have with her own physician.

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You're Invited to a Murder Mystery Birthday Party!

The Freudenthal Hospice team had a blast putting on a Murder Mystery Birthday Party for one of our clients at Carriage Square. It was so heartwarming to see her family jump right in and become their characters and make her birthday so much fun. Happy Birthday Anna!

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Understanding the Hospice Benefit

Steven Brushwood, DO   Freudenthal Hospice Medical Director

Steven Brushwood, DO
Freudenthal Hospice Medical Director

Everyone deserves to have the best quality of life possible and be treated with dignity, especially during the last months of life. Choosing to use hospice benefits helps people live comfortably and with a sense of normalcy, regardless of a terminal illness.

Hospice care is intensive comfort care. It relieves pain and symptoms while attending to an individual’s physical, personal, emotional and spiritual needs. Choosing hospice means taking control of your care and making the most of every day.

With an emphasis on comfort, patients and their loved ones are able to spend time simply being together. Our hospice team brings sensitivity, compassion and skill to meet our patients’ needs and support their loved ones every day. Please don’t hesitate to call our team and discuss if hospice could help you or your loved ones.

Click the video below for more on the hospice benefit from Dr. Brushwood.

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The Role of the Hospice RN Case Manager

The role of a hospice nurse is not an easy one, but it can be very rewarding. Hospice nurses focus entirely on end-of-life care. They manage pain and other symptoms, provide support to patients and families and assist in the process of death with dignity. Sonja Collins, RN Case Manager for Freudenthal Hospice, sat down and spoke with us about why she loves being a hospice nurse and how she not only provides care for her patient but also their family.

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Happy Independence Day!

As we celebrate our nation’s independence, we pray that your day is surrounded with family and friends. Have a safe and happy 4th of July Weekend!

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Sunset Stroll 5K Gallery

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who came out and made our very first 5K such a success! You came out on one of the hottest days so far this summer and showed support for an amazing group of people fighting back against Parkinson’s Disease. Your donations and support help make the Freudenthal Center for Parkinson’s Disease a reality!

Donate Now

Thank You To All Of Our Sponsors


Home Health/Hospice/In-Home

Performance Plus Rehabilitation Center

East Hills Shopping Center

JDG Home Renovation

Wiles Eye Center

Spine & Sport Physical Therapy

Gordon Autobody, Inc.

Randolph Seating & Mobility

Carriage Square Living & Rehabilitation

M&M Building, Inc.

Austin & Laura Nold

School of Nursing & Health Professions
Missouri Western State University

Merrill Sindt Family

Living Community of St. Joseph

Sam’s Club


Smoothie King

Long Photography


Jamie’s Secret Garden


Anytime Fitness

Mosaic Life Care


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Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day from our family to yours! May you have a blessed day filled with family and love!

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Lost Memories: Caregiver Tips for Alzheimer's & Dementia


As a family caregiver, caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s making them feel loved and wanted through long-term care is vital. This is a very difficult and complicated condition that can progress over time without cure or clear understanding of how the disease progresses. June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month, so here are a few tips to help family caregivers manage the needs of their loved ones brain related illnesses.

Keep A Schedule

A person with Alzheimer’s or dementia is likely to suffer from extreme frustration due to memory loss and uncertainty. Planning a schedule that offers specific times for when certain activities are to take place with a bit of flexibility may help lessen that frustration.

Create A Comfortable Environment

Home may be the most comfortable place for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient to be in. Try to allow that person to have freedom inside their home without being at risk of significant harm.

The in-home environment should still be comfortable. Try to manage the heating and air conditioning system so that it creates a comfortable climate, but also be willing to adjust the temperature based on your loved one’s request.

Try to make sure the home is well lit. It might be easier for a person to move through the house and creating a bright environment will make it easy for a person to feel comfortable.

Keep Distractions in Check

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia entails a person becoming increasingly distracted by various things. A person might be distracted by a television set in the background or by some person moving outside of one’s home.

Keep all distractions in the home under control. This will make it easier for them to focus on whatever the task or activity at hand might be. Getting rid of distractions also reduces the potential for a person to become overly confused.

Give Clear Instructions

From painting to crafting or even sporting activities, there are many great and productive things you can do with your loved ones. As you look at the things you plan on doing with them, think about how you are providing a person with the necessary instructions for those activities.

It is best to talk with them in a clear and easy-to-follow manner. Don’t add too much information all at once. Be clear and direct with your instructions and allow them time to hear and understand what you saying and asking them to do. Be patient and answer any questions they have as well.

Let Them Make Choices

Just because you are taking care of an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient, it doesn’t mean you have to hold full control over that person. Respect their desires and help support their general sense of control over their own life.

Always allow for a few choices as you are planning particular activities. You can allow them to choose what drink, what clothes to wear, and so forth. Giving them choices also ensures that they will want to work alongside you and listen to what you have to say.

Safety Is Key

Being in a familiar environment, like their own home, makes it easy for a person with Alzheimer’s to enjoy life and be cooperative with others, but over time it can be easy for their home to become dangerous. Creating a safer environment that is a little easier to control, will make it easier to care for them and help both you, the caregiver, and your loved one to remain positive about them aging in place. Start by ensuring that all of the floors and surfaces in a home are kept clear and organized. That may mean removing any rugs, cords or other obstructions.

You can also add locks to different surfaces around a home to ensure a patient does not get into any cabinets or other spaces that might contain potentially dangerous items. Don’t forget, Freudenthal offers free in-home assessments to help with creating a safe environment for your loved ones.

Be Patient

No matter what you are doing with an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient, always try be caring and understanding of that person’s needs. Every person with one of these diseases responds to it differently, and it’s progression can be unpredictable. If your loved one does something wrong or has a mental lapse try not to criticize them. Instead, be encouraging and supportive. Remember it’s all about providing your loved one with the dignity and support they truly deserve.

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Aphasia: Struggling To Get The Words Out

June is National Aphasia Month and we thought we’d take a look at what it is and how it can affect not only the person who has it but also their family caregivers. Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the ability to speak, to understand the speech of others, and even possibly the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to a brain injury–most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. However, brain injuries resulting in Aphasia may also arise from head trauma, brain tumors, or infections.

The affects of Aphasia are varied depending on the circumstances of each individual. It can be so severe it makes communication with the patient almost impossible, or it can be very mild. It may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to retrieve the names of objects, or the ability to put words together into sentences. Most commonly, multiple aspects of communication are impaired.

Something I learned from a patient’s wife, when I first became a speech therapist, was that I was asking too many questions. She reminded me we have to slow down and give the person with Aphasia time to answer the question, it restarts the process of them trying to find the words to give us an answer. Patience is key, when dealing with Aphasia.
— Linda Kemper, SLP — Freudenthal Home Health

The impact of Aphasia on relationships may be profound, or only slight. Patience is key when communicating with a loved one struggling with Aphasia. Linda Kemper, speech therapist for Freudenthal, explains, “Imagine waking up one day and not being able to form sentences. They’re scared because they don’t know what’s happening to them and why they can’t find the words they want.” As a family caregiver it’s important to meet your loved one where they are at and do everything you can to help them communicate including using pictures and even going back to the basics of how to read and write depending on the severity of their situations.

No two people with Aphasia are alike with respect to severity, former speech and language skills, or personality. But in all cases it is essential for the person to communicate as successfully as possible from the very beginning of the recovery process. Here are some suggestions to help communicate with a person with Aphasia:

  1. Make sure you have the person’s attention before you start.

  2. Minimize or eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people).

  3. Keep your own voice at a normal level, unless the person has indicated otherwise.

  4. Keep communication simple, but adult. Simplify your own sentence structure and reduce your rate of speech. Emphasize key words. Don’t “talk down” to the person with Aphasia.

  5. Give them time to speak. Resist the urge to finish sentences or offer words.

  6. Communicate with drawings, gestures, writing and facial expressions in addition to speech.

  7. Confirm that you are communicating successfully with “yes” and “no” questions.

  8. Praise all attempts to speak and downplay any errors. Avoid insisting that that each word be produced perfectly.

  9. Engage in normal activities whenever possible. Do not shield people with Aphasia from family or ignore them in a group conversation. Rather, try to involve them in family decision-making as much as possible, but avoid burdening them with day to day details.

  10. Encourage independence and avoid being overprotective.

As a family caregiver it’s always important to remember that you have a right to choose when it comes to getting care for your loved ones. It’s also important to reach out for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Don’t hesitate to call 816-676-8050 if you have any questions about getting care for you loved ones or even yourself.

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National Cancer Survivor's Day


National Cancer Survivors Day® is an annual, treasured Celebration of Life that is held in hundreds of communities nationwide, and around the world, on the first Sunday in June. It is a CELEBRATION for those who have survived, an INSPIRATION for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of SUPPORT for families, and an OUTREACH to the community. On National Cancer Survivors Day®, thousands gather across the globe to honor cancer survivors and to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding, and even inspiring.

It is a day for everyone, whether you're a cancer survivor, a family member, friend, or medical professional. This day provides an opportunity for all people living with a history of cancer – including America’s more than 15.5 million cancer survivors – to connect with each other, celebrate milestones, and recognize those who have supported them along the way. It is also a day to draw attention to the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship in order to promote more resources, research, and survivor-friendly legislation to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

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We Remember Their Sacrifice...

This Memorial Day weekend we pause to take time and remember the men and women who sacrificed all for our freedoms. May all your families have a blessed holiday weekend.

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The Role of the Hospice Chaplain

When a person and their family caregivers decide that hospice care is the best path to take, the choice is not only medical, but also emotional and sometimes spiritual.

Hospice chaplains are a key piece of not only caring for the whole person, but also helping their families during this time of transition. While Hospice chaplains may not have all of the answers, they specialize in listening and recognizing that asking the thoughtful questions is an important part of moving toward peace.

Hospice chaplains provide support through a variety of ways, including prayer and devotion, reconciliation, and even bereavement counseling. Spiritual support is provided based on an individual’s personal beliefs.

Freudenthal Hospice chaplain Dennis Jones speaks about the role of the hospice chaplain and the impact they can have not only with the client but also with the family.

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The Compassion Point – Spring 2019 Caregiver Award

We are proud to announce that our very own Private Duty Caregiver Brenda Miller was selected to receive the Compassion Point Spring 2019 Caregiver Award. Brenda regularly goes the extra mile to exceed not only the expectations of her job, but also the expectations of the clients she takes care of.

Congratulations Brenda – you definitely are a great example of First-Class Care!

Check out our interview with Brenda below!

Thank you! I love my job and my clients. NO WAY can any other company have a staff, like we have, that goes above and beyond to do more than just their job!!!
— Brenda Miller

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Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful women we call Mom!
May your day be blessed one!

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Congratulations to Dr. Steven Brushwood!

Dr. Steven Brushwood,  Medical Director — Hospice Division  Photo/Story Credit: Northwest Healthcare

Dr. Steven Brushwood,
Medical Director — Hospice Division

Photo/Story Credit: Northwest Healthcare

Congratulations to Dr. Steven Brushwood who was inducted as President of MAOPS (Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons). We are so proud to have you as the Medical Director for Freudenthal Hospice! You are a huge blessing to our team!

He will serve as President for 2019-2020 year. As many know, Dr. Brushwood is goal oriented, an advocate for all patients and brings strong values to the table.

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Hospice Care: 6 Things You Need To Know

There are a lot of misconceptions about hospice care and many times people miss out on important care they and their families could be receiving because of them. No matter what you’ve heard, hospice is all about providing care and comfort for both patients and their family. A recent study demonstrated that family members are more satisfied with a loved one’s end of life care if they receive hospice services, with 80% of families surveyed saying their love one’s end of life wishes were followed. The focus of hospice is improving or maintaining the highest quality of life through emotional, spiritual and physical support. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s (NHPCO) 2015 report “Hospice Care in America,” 1.6 to 1.7 million people received hospice care in 2014.

In an effort to clear up the misconceptions, here are 6 things we think you really should know about hospice care and what it can do not only for the patient but also their family caregivers.

Choosing Hospice Doesn’t Mean Giving Up Hope

Based on the 1.2 million search results for “hospice is giving up," it’s not surprising why so many people believe this to be true. Hospice care is not giving up. Instead, hospice services are there to provide comfort and improve quality of life and to help carry out the wishes of the patient.

Hospice Is A Helper For Family Caregivers

Many families, especially among ethnic communities, adopt the idea that only family can take proper care of family. They can often see hospice caregivers as interlopers rather than partners in caring for their loved ones. Hospice care is meant to be a support not only for the patient but also for the family caregivers. In fact hospice care doesn’t end at the moment of death, the hospice team continues to walk beside the family for at least a year following the death of their loved one, providing services such as grief counseling, spiritual support, and more. Bereavement support is an important part of hospice services. The NHPCO report shows that 91.6% of hospice agencies offer bereavement support to community members.

You Don’t Have to Wait Until The Very End To Choose Hospice Care

Hospice care can begin when the patient’s physician gives a prognosis of six months or less if the disease follows the expected course. Hospice often provides such comfort and support that many outlive their expected prognosis. While the majority of hospice patients do pass away during hospice care, the truth is, hospice care does not speed up death. In fact, those who employ hospice care may live longer than those who choose not to use hospice services. While a patient is referred to hospice care when a doctor’s prognosis is six months or less, if the patient lives longer, hospice care can absolutely continue past that six month mark.

You Can Receive Hospice Care At Home

Another common myth is that you must “go to hospice.” This is not the case. Hospice care can often times be administered at home. In fact, most hospice patients tend to prefer receiving care at home. Hospice is a philosophy of care and can be received wherever the patient and their loved ones prefer.

You Can Afford Hospice Care

Hospice care is covered under the Medicare hospice benefit, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. That being said, you are NOT REQUIRED to have Medicare or Medicaid in order to receive hospice care. There are many different payment options available for hospice care. 

Not All Hospice Providers Are The Same

Hospice programs must follow a set of rules and regulations determined by the state, however support services may differ. It is important to find one that offers the right care. Since the addition of hospice to the Freudenthal family of care services, we now can give you access to a full continuum of services to match the individual needs of our patients and their families. With access to our in-home services, family caregivers can find the support they need to carry out their daily activities while knowing their loved one is being cared for right in their own home.

If you have any other questions about hospice, please don’t hesitate to call us at 816-676-8050. We are here to help and support family caregivers, especially during these times of transition.

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Social Workers: Resources for Family Caregivers


Resources for family caregivers can be hard to come by and tricky to navigate when they can be found. It can leave the caregiver wishing they had a guide to walk them through the entire process. That’s exactly what social workers do, they are a guide to resources. Here’s the Top 3 ways social workers can help you navigate the confusion of paperwork and phone calls.


Social workers know the resources that are available in your area and what needs to be done to obtain them. It’s difficult to know exactly what resources you or your loved ones may qualify for. Social workers may lead you to resources you never knew existed.


Social workers are there to help and be an advocate for their clients. It can be hard to know who is on your side. There are a lot of negative stereotypes out there about social workers, but you have to remember that first and foremost, social workers are advocates for their clients and their needs.


Along with the knowledge base comes connections to the agencies with resources and the gatekeepers who control them. those connections are important when you’re in need of resources to help care for a loved one.

Freudenthal employs some of the most amazing social workers in the St. Joseph area who are ready to help you get the resources you need to be a family caregiver. Let them help you take some of the stress out of family caregiving and give you more time to be a family. Call 816-676-8050 today and let us know how we can help you.

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The Importance of Vocal Exercises for People with Parkinson's Disease

Stephanie Stewart, MSN, RN-BC interviews Dr. Elizabeth Stegemöller about her vocal exercise program for people with Parkinson's disease.

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Where To Begin: The Questions You Should Be Asking


Countless times we’ve heard the stories of families that are thrust into family caregiving situations and don’t know where to begin looking for help or even what questions they should be asking. Sometimes it even can feel like caregiving options are being forced on them or that they have to make decisions “right now” without researching their options.

Choosing care for a loved one is definitely a decision that deserves some thought and research, especially when that means hiring professional caregivers that will be working inside the home. High pressure tactics on the part of a medical facility can make it feel like there is no time to make the decision, but don’t let it stop you from asking these important questions.

The Company:

Who owns the company?
Is it owned and managed by a family or a corporation?
Are they local and a part of our community?


If I have questions who do I talk to?
Is it the same person every time or is it a call center?
Is this person a healthcare professional?
If I have questions after hours or on the weekend, is there someone I can call?


Is the company certified by Medicare and Medicaid?
Are it’s caregivers bonded and insured through the agency?
What are their privacy practices?


What process do they use to hire and assess your caregivers?
What does the pre-employment screening look like?
Do they have additional screenings each year?
How do they evaluate your caregivers?
How often do they evaluate your caregivers?
What training do they provide to the caregivers?
How do they respond to emergencies?


What specific services do they provide?
Do they provide in-home care as well as home health & hospice care?
Will my loved one have the same caregiver every time?
What happens if the caregiver doesn’t show up on time or at all?
What if my loved one doesn’t approve of the caregiver or wants a new one?


How likely is it that Medicare Part A will cover my parent’s home health care?
What insurance plans do they accept?
Do they submit claims to the insurance agency or am I expected to do so?
What expenses, if any, are excluded?

These certainly do not cover all the questions you may have that are specific to your family caregiving situation, but they give you a place to start. Having a good place to begin your search is always important and if we can help you in any way, don’t hesitate to give Freudenthal a call and let us answer these questions for you.

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